I have a rare hereditary condition called Raynaud’s Disease. It’s a disorder that restricts circulation (blood flow) to your hands, feet, fingers and toes. This can lead to severe cold and painful sensations in your outer extremities — even when it isn’t that cold out. But, obviously, the colder it is the more challenging it becomes. I’ve battled it my entire life. And it’s something that’s caused numerous hunts to end prematurely. I had to find a way to combat this issue.
Cold hands and feet are things most deer hunters deal with, though. You don’t have to have the disorder I suffer from to have this problem. But for those seeking ways to keep those fingers and toes toasty, here are 13 ways I try to accomplish that.
1. Eat the Right Food
It all starts with your diet. And to be honest, I suck at this part. For me, there’s only one food group — brown. That’s it. I love fried foods. I’ll probably die from a heart attack one day. But something’s gotta kill ya. Might as well enjoy the thing that does it, right? Banter aside, avoid spicy foods, sweets, and other junk foods that make you sweat and your sugar spike. Instead, focus on healthy, high-carb food sources that will help you efficiently burn energy. And remember to snack on the same type of foods periodically throughout the hunt to keep your body re-fueled.
2. Wear Quality Gloves and Socks
This might sound elementary, but choosing a good pair of gloves and socks is important. Focus on wool and synthetic materials that hold heat in and keep sweat out. This is the basis of a good heat-retention plan.
3. Wear Multiple Layers
Wear multiple layers to help hold heat. That’s another simple idea everyone is already aware of. But it works. And people often forget to do it.
4. Keep Your Head Covered
Keep your head covered to keep your feet warm? That’s right. Some sources say as much as 60 to 70 percent of body heat loss comes from the head and neck region. If you can decrease the heat loss there, that translates to more heat retention in your hands and feet. It’s simple biology, really.
5. Use Hand and Feet Warmers
HotHands might be the best late-season hunting tool ever invented. I buy stock in them every year. If you struggle to keep warm, you might want to as well.
6. Use a Hand Muff
Keep one of these around your waist and you’ll be glad you did. It’s worth the money to have a warm place to stick your hands. And I promise, this is much better than using your pockets. Hunter Safety System makes a great option for this product.
7. Wrap Them in Plastic
You can’t do this with your hands but wrapping your feet in plastic (over the sock layer), or placing them inside a small trash bag, will decrease the amount of wind that contacts your feet. It sounds a bit redneck, but it works. Try it if you don’t believe me.
8. Duck Tape the Seams
Realtree-branded Duck Tape has a million and one uses. Literally. And keeping your feet warm is one of them. Placing it around sock and boot seams will decrease the amount of heat that escapes that region. But remember to not tape them too tight. That will decrease circulation, which causes the opposite effect, along with creating additional problems.
9. Wear Good Boots
Another not-so-ground-breaking idea, but it’s an effective one. No matter your budget, if you have problems keeping your feet warm, invest in the best boots you can afford. It’s paramount. LaCrosse is an incredible option.
10. Keep Them Moving
We obviously have to be still while deer hunting. That’s part of the gig, after all. But a little wiggle action shouldn’t tip you off to the animals around you. Keep those fingers and toes wiggling in order to keep the blood flowing.
This is another great option. In fact, it keeps virtually your whole body warm — not just your hands and feet. Then, at the moment of truth, you can emerge from your cocoon and fill that cold-weather, late-season tag. ArcticShield has you covered here, too.
13. Use a Heater
Yeah, this almost feels like cheating. But sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. And on those severely cold days, if you’re in a blind, a heater just might be the fix. Careful though — don’t fall asleep. Fire and fumes can be a real threat if a heater is left unattended and unmonitored. I know of at least one instance where a hunter used one in a blind, fell asleep, and then succumbed to the smoke and fire. Use heaters with caution and responsibility.